Fringe Benefits of Spicebush

Fringe Benefits of Spicebush

Spicebush (

Lindera benzoin

) isn't a knock-your-socks off shrub.  The flowers are inconspicuous, the leaves unremarkable. Small fruits follow the flowers. However, just like milkweed, this shrub has the power to protect the caterpillars that consume it. Eastern black swallowtails, Promethea Silkmoths and, or course, Spicebush swallowtails. Which is why you need one of these shrubs. So you can torment yourself chasing caterpillars across the yard just like we do!

I first thought I spotted a Spicebush swallowtail in the yard back in April. But I wasn't sure. Then I thought I'd spotted some eggs on the underside of leaves, but saw nothing further developing, so decided that I was mistaken. And then this happened. The leaves started folding up their edges. Very strange. This calls for further investigation. 

A HA!  This little guy tried to pretend he was bird poo, but we were not fooled.  

We found several of these little dudes hiding out under their leaf edges. Never saw one get to a larger size, though. Had dreadful thoughts about how successful the birds have been.... 

So then Saturday, we made this shocking discovery. I know. There are so many things wrong with this picture, I was beside myself. I mean really. She can't possibly be considering pupating on a fungicide bottle. Really? This Will Not Do.

We relocated our new caterpillar friend to the nearby, non-toxic, cucumber box. And being as how Saturday happened to be the day we were entertaining guests for dinner, we could only glance in her direction sporadically. She carefully examined the entire inner frame of the side (framed in 2"x4"s, inner boards are old fence) and then stopped at the top. (Click to see this one larger!)

When our friends got to the house, she had already tied herself down. I didn't take a picture then, as the steaks would not wait, but got this shot the next morning. I abjectly apologize for the fuzziness. 

And here she is tonight, well along in the process. Back at work tomorrow, but I'll do my best to get progress pictures! As usual, you can click on the images for a larger view. 

*Two different cameras in use on this post. The last image made use of off-camera flash and a diffusing hood. Wanted accurate color rendition. Just in case you were curious. :)

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